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Fireclay in Japan

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  • Fireclay in Japan

    Peeps who have built an oven in Japan, any idea where I could acquire fire clay? So far I have only found fire mortar, fire cement, and fire putty.

    The fire putty is labeled "cement type" so I assume one is supposed to mix it with water. Could this be the so called fire clay?

  • #2
    Re: Fireclay in Japan

    Ask Laurentius or Mikku
    Build Link............... Picassa Photo Album Link


    • #3
      Re: Fireclay in Japan

      Hi Filmost,

      Where are you? Do you have any kiln builders or ceramicists (potters) in your area, they are the best bet. You may also check with Joyful Honda or Komeri stores.


      • #4
        Re: Fireclay in Japan

        Originally posted by Laurentius View Post
        Hi Filmost,

        Where are you? Do you have any kiln builders or ceramicists (potters) in your area, they are the best bet. You may also check with Joyful Honda or Komeri stores.
        Thanks for the reply! Apologies for this late response. I am in Saitama Prefecture. There's a Komeri close by so I will check them out.


        • #5
          Re: Fireclay in Japan

          Hello Filmost!

          How about telling us a little about yourself and what you are doing. You are about an hour from me in one direction and about the same from Laurentius in the other--depends if you know the roads and drive the speed limit! I am into casting things from refractory mortar.. You can bet better information on regular brick construction from sensei Laurentius!

          Good to see there is another English speaker in Japan with an interest in WFO's, it is very habit forming.. don't know if that is good or bad?


          • #6
            Re: Fireclay in Japan

            Originally posted by mikku View Post
            Hello Filmost!

            How about telling us a little about yourself and what you are doing. You are about an hour from me in one direction and about the same from Laurentius in the other--depends if you know the roads and drive the speed limit! I am into casting things from refractory mortar.. You can bet better information on regular brick construction from sensei Laurentius!

            Good to see there is another English speaker in Japan with an interest in WFO's, it is very habit forming.. don't know if that is good or bad?
            Sure thing Mikku. I'm an American and the local kakure-gaijin if you get my drift. I have been in Japan for, I think 7ish years now, going on 8. We just moved into our house this past February and I have been talking about building a pizza oven. I actually have the spot picked out, but its currently occupied by a bunch of stepping stones.

            What I did decide to do recently though, is to use the stones as a base, b/c I can't exactly throw them away. They are at least 12in squares and between 3-5 inches thick I think. So I am thinking instead of casing concrete and building up walls, that I would first layer and stack them with mortar or concrete and rebar (seriously I have so many stones...) into a solid base. Level out the top, then add on a layer or two of blocks on top of that.

            After that, instead of casting my own concrete top, I was thinking of layering several precast concrete slabs (there will be support wall in the middle), then add a ceramic wool board on top of that and build up my dome.

            It'll be a corner build, and I am not sure if what I have written gives you a good idea or not, haha, but please let me know what you think!


            • #7
              Re: Fireclay in Japan

              Hello- glad that you replied, relatively quickly.
              I don't want to throw cold water onto your ideas, but I think that you are making a much bigger job out of a relatively cheap and easy base construction. If it were my build and in your location, I would use the stones anywhere else-like digging them into the ground somewhere to use as stepping stones or really anything... You want a solid base for whatever you are doing -- cement blocks are available depending on where you buy and the quality of the block purchased. If you buy from a home center, they are very cheap but they do not carry a stamp JIS or JAS ink stamp on the block itself. The home center stuff simply is the proper size--approximately but not rated for any weights and no specific recipe used for their manufacture.. The ones that you buy from a concrete specialty company may be 30% more expensive, but you know that the product meets certain standards and usually hold up better to freeze thaw cycles--they are usually specified for outside applications... the home center stuff is generally for interior use...But most people are not savvy to this so they only shop for best price!

              All the different posts for bases using cement block are very straight forward and easy to accomplish. Does not require any special block laying experience--only the ability to occasionally make a cut OR you make your base as a multiple of the modular size of the block and get away with cuts almost entirely. You simply stack them up on a flat foundation--- If you are going to go this way, when you pour your foundation slab--before it actually sets solid, stick some rebar L's into the concrete where the cavities of the block will hit. This will help to anchor the block to the slab when you are filling the block cavities. If you stack the block right on top of each other, using Japanese block, there is an upper recess to run horizontal rebar with each course as well as you punching the bottoms out of the cavities---and allow to have vertical reinforcement as well. If you lay the block up without mortar, your height does not come out like it would in the USA because USA allows 3/8" for your mortar bed then your coursing hits at 8" (finish height) or shiyagi.

              That is the way, I would recommend you to go--ask Laurentius as well and he will probably say "ditto". But I am a kind-a-funny type of person giving recommendations....I don't even have a base made for my oven! But I have been using it for making all kinds of stuff already! Now I am tossing around the idea of selling the oven that I have and make a different design one for my use. I am beginning to focus on what we what to do with an oven---that is: make bread, bake cookies, pies, all kinds of things like that, possibly make some pasty or meat pies and occasionally do a pizza. I think that rather than a dome, I am leaning more to the barrel type---but in a precast design and then actually much larger than those used for most individual homes....those are must my thoughts right now!

              The oven that I have comes up to temp..500plus C. in a little over 1 1/2 hours--if I fire it to saturation, that will take another hour--but 1 hour after starting--you can be baking pizza to your hearts delight--the three minute variety right now.. if I learn how to use the flame better, maybe a 90 second pizza would be possible. Right now, my oven weighs in at about 1200 kg--fully movable anywhere with the use of a boom truck, can be set on any foundation...that was the idea of my build in the first place. Make it movable to set up for future customers.. Now my criteria is changing!

              I am known for my windy answers--some of my friends call my e-mails, mini-novels.. But if they are not interested in reading what I write...they do not have to take the time........some scan and then call me up for advice... That kind of burns my butt--if they read it totally--and don't understand something, then I will describe better with a phone call... Otherwise, they can p up a tree!

              So, glad to see there is another yankee around in Japan, meaning American. If you are a northerner or southerner makes a big difference---some of the southern persons are sensitive...so I have to be urged to use some tact which I am short of..

              So any southerners reading this--please do not take offense--none intended! Some of the southerners are really gifted in their baking skills--so maybe I just shut up!

              What city do you live in anyway? Are you military or previous military, and which age group do you belong? Really does not matter much but I am too nosey!

              If I have bad spelling or incorrect use of English...sorry, this is way too long to proof. So fill in the blanks--I hope you get my drift in my poor English!


              • #8
                Re: Fireclay in Japan

                Wow Mikku, thanks for the in depth reply!

                To be honest, the only reason I am planning to use these stones is b/c I am not going to do anything else with them. I actually dug the up b/c I didn't want to deal with the trouble of cutting around them during lawn mowing. So I figure I might as well recycle them into my foundation, b/c at the moment they are just in the way. I would think it would be cheaper and stronger this way as well, given it will end up being a solid block and I would only need to buy mortar or cement and rebar/chicken wire.

                That's really awesome that you built a mobile one! Would love to see photos if you have any publicly available ;-) For me, I decided to go with the dome style b/c it seemed like the barrel type requires too much material for thermal mass. That and I need a faster heating oven vs long heat holding. I am planning to eventually add on a small smoker/grill to the side of the oven, but we will see.

                I am not ex-military. Actually came over right after college and taught English via the JET program. Have been here ever since. Currently I do engineer support for a tiny semi-conductor company and teach English to some local kids on the side. Also regarding your post, I happen to be from the south, Arkansas to be precise, and I didn't think it was offensive at all lol, but then again I am Asian as well, so that could be it.


                • #9
                  Re: Fireclay in Japan

                  Wow! you are a young fella then! So you are an Asian American from Arkansas...is Japanese something you grew up hearing frequently OR something you have to struggle with like me? And why the heck did you leave Arkansas to come to Japan? That is one of the most beautiful states in the south!

                  I read your post again--I really need a photo of the stones you are talking about! Are you sure you did not discover a Jomon Period structure--the Japan equivalent to Stone Hedge? or Henge? Just joking..

                  If there were some photos, I might be able to comment more on the build. "Oya-ishi" is very common around this area but it is difficult to make masonry joints...it has a bad habit of sucking all the moisture from the mortar joints--really not setting before it dries out! "STONECUTTER" can give advice on laying stone, I am clueless! Questions on bricklaying and tunnel shaped ovens direct to "BRICKIE OF OZ"; questions on castable refractory --talk to "david s".

                  You are still going to need a hard walking surface surrounding your oven, laying stone as a paver I think is a lot easier than laying them up for a structural base, I'd try to lay them closer then grout around them making a very impressive floor surface!

                  My oven is really not mobile in the broadly accepted sense. I can move it because it has casters! Or move it with a forklift, because it does not have a home yet! Or move it with an unic boom truck...if I want to exactly set it in a specific location. But not mobile in that I can take it along with me to serve pizza at a local gathering ---or something like that!

                  I cannot do a long post tonight, only got 2 1/2 hours sleep yesterday so I am approaching maximum fatigue. Also had to look up meaning of b/c, not my generation slang but now I understand. If you have oya stone, it can be easily cut and chipped into different shapes for an oven exterior veneer--then you would use an epoxy instead of mortar and lay it up without grout lines.

                  BTW, I am a first generation, born in America person of Finnish ancestry, maybe also considered a red-neck because I work with my hands outdoors, WASP, if you consider the Finns part of the Viking hoard that invaded Great Britain and passed their DNA onto the anglo locals. Familiar with a lot of construction applications and always willing to try something new. All the little descriptions hint about who I am but really am an "odd ball" that does not fit any of the stereotypes!

                  You can check out my build by referencing--"Getting Started" then scroll to "Structural Slab for new WFO" it is still in its infancy but fun to use!


                  • #10
                    Re: Fireclay in Japan

                    Wow what a difference 6 hours of sleep (all in a row) makes! Put away my "rose colored glasses for viewing the world" and put on the clear pair............Ummmmmmmmmmm.. Rose makes the world look better!

                    Commenting on oven types, for a beginner, I think that a barrel type would be easier to master and get good results... There must be a reason "Brickie" chose that type...not saying he is a beginner (Sorry) but instead a pro who knows that a quick, build that gives great interior space and can be used for a whole lot of things may be preferable! the dome is something that takes so much cutting and fitting--(but shows off either the builders' skills or lack of them quickly). I think it all comes down to how much insulation you use, its placement and the time you take planning your work. If it were me--and not using a castable design, I think that I would go with the barrel. All things being equal--result wise, think that the barrel shines above the dome! But just my opinion after my only (1 off build).

                    In hind sight, pericrete is cheapest, but the negative side is the huge amount of time it takes to dry the water out of the stuff! Even after numerous burns, I still think that my oven is off-gassing-steam from water still present in all the pericrete I used.

                    You can do all your own research and come up with your own conclusions--but I like quicker results. Don't mind taking time making something, but once it has a useful shape, I want it to work.

                    Next time for me is barrel type; castable; ceramic fiber onto castable; metal enclosure, and a whole lot of dry perlite or vermiculite poured around the whole oven itself within the metal shell---mountains of it! then the case tightly closed up for weather protection and the oven placed in a good dry place for use.

                    I am rambling again and really don't have time--have to travel 70 km to new job this morning--but higher elevation area so maybe a little cooler. Yesterday was pretty hot! I guess this is welcoming summer after the prolonged rainy season has finally finished (maybe). Cheers with your build--get in touch with Laurentius for advice and sourcing. Not too many other English speakers interested in WFO's in Japan right now... Welcome aboard and keep your posts coming!

                    Also, read up as much as you can on previous builds. The pros on this sight are happy to give great advice BUT most get tired of repeating the same answers for the ten-thousand - n'th time! but new twists to old questions is just fine! After a while, you will be able to recognize personalities.

                    BTW, do you have any "good - Asian American - twists to southern food recipe's" really like to see what your mix of cultures produced as far as cuisine!


                    • #11
                      Re: Fireclay in Japan

                      Sorry, for the late reply. My brother was in town for about two weeks and just left last Thursday.

                      I have noticed there's a lot to be researched when building WFOs. That said, just the other day while vacationing in Yamanashi Pref. I saw an old guy with a truck mounted WFO. His construction was pretty simple. Basically just fire bricks on his truck bed with what looked like a concrete dome. It was a very low dome. Looked like it worked fantastically though.

                      Anyway a bit on my background, I am first generation Vietnamese born in the US. I studied Japanese in college. Came over here first to study, then to teach, and then just stuck around. I hate to admit it, but the catalyst was old school anime, haha.

                      For asian twists on southern food huh. Well, my friend's mom has a recipe for Asian style fried chicken wings that uses fish sauce as its base. It's truly a delicious treat. I'd have to pester him for it. Lets see, Asian BBQ often uses Chinese five spice. Off the top of my head thats all I can think of at the moment. And on that note, gonna take an early night tonight.


                      • #12
                        Re: Fireclay in Japan

                        Does your mother or any of your siblings do any cooking--Vietnamese style? would really like authentic recipes of some of the delicious things you have grown up eating! You are just teasing when you give a recipe name without the ingredients or how to---as far as making! Please do some checking and post the results soon!


                        • #13
                          Re: Fireclay in Japan

                          Are you driving around Japan or traveling by train or something else?
                          If you are driving, take the time to come to Nikko. I can show you how mine works and maybe you will decide to try one like mine. It sure is a lot easier than doing it out of brick! Also it heats up quickly, retains it heat well, and you can choose your own exterior finish! The sky is the limit on ideas to decorate and personalize this type of oven!


                          • #14
                            Re: Fireclay in Japan

                            Haha, my brother left on 8/22 actually, but actually mayhaps I will take you up on your offer. We take our kids to Nikko from time to time, well Tochigi anyway. Last time we were up there we went to Mashiko and did some pottery, before heading to Nikko to stay at a pension. It was a great trip.

                            Annnnd, actually I have a recipe for you this time. I remembered I had stored my friend's recipe in my evernote account! The following is an Asian take on chicken wings and the recipe belongs to my friends mom. You may adjust as you like, the recipe assumes you have basic knowledge of fried chicken and I think he said to assume 2lbs of wings, but can't remember so you might have to play with it.

                            Mama Pham's Chicken Wings

                            Chicken (adjust amounts as necessary):
                            • 2lbs (my assumption) chicken wings
                            • (optional) 1/2 tsp ajinomoto (umami/msg)
                            • 1 tsp salt
                            • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
                            • 1 tsp garlic powder
                            • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
                            • starch for frying (you could use katakuriko)
                            1. Mix seasonings with chicken and let marinate at least 1 hour.
                            2. Roll the chicken in starch and fry until browned.
                            3. Remove from oil to a paper lined plate. Use enough paper to soak up excess oil.

                            Sauce (adjust as necessary)
                            • 3 stalks green onion (hosonegi), diced
                            • 5 cloves garlic, minced
                            • 1 stick unsalted butter or equivalent oil
                            • 3 asian soup spoons of sugar (japanese renge)
                            • 2 asian soup spoon fish sauce (japanese renge)
                            • Sriracha chili sauce for heat, or equivalent
                            1. Mix sugar and fish sauce in a bowl, set aside.
                            2. Brown garlic in a frying pan with butter or oil.
                            3. Add green onion to garlic mixture and stir fry.
                            4. Add in the fish sauce mixture and stir a couple of times.
                            5. Remove sauce mixture from heat, combine in a large bowl or container with the chicken wings and toss.
                            6. Crack open a beer and enjoy.

                            My friends mom uses this at her billiard back in the states, they always use a 24pc tray of wings, so I am assuming its equivalent to 2lbs. Good luck! I actually haven't tried to make them myself, but have eaten them from tie to time when visiting. They are like crack!


                            • #15
                              Re: Fireclay in Japan

                              Thank you for the recipe!
                              My wife makes chicken wings occasionally and they have a sticky sauce that keeps you licking your fingers all the time!
                              We will have to try this out real soon--our favorite protein source is chicken, but usually chicken breast. Somehow, chicken breast is not popular in Japan because it is too dry for most Japanese taste. So, I am lucky! We buy from a couple of sources--both gyomu type establishments. If that is the correct spelling--or at least you can get my drift. 2kg packages chilled chicken breast ranging in price from 400 to 700 yen. Each package has approximately 8 chicken breast-all domestic stock. Wings are not usually sold in the 2 kg packs --instead 1kg (forget the price). Dark meat ? (momo) is double the price--but liked by the locals!

                              As far as coming to Nikko--just let me know--send private message and we can connect. I am working a crazy schedule right now and it is going to last another week or so! Driving 1 1/2 hrs each way to Nasushiobara on a whole house remodeling job--almost finished. But on Sundays, been driving into Ibaraki to help servicing a mini-backhoe... Got it running last Sunday but I was asked to work on another backhoe--replacing some hydraulics and then servicing a forklift. Playing with engines has always interested me but not as a job--this is a hobby! It keeps my mind clearer--because I am focusing on something different than carpentry...but still using my mind and hands!

                              The area where I live the homes are mostly bessos... many of the owners are from Saitama. The land was subdivided maybe 30 years ago--bubble times and totally sold out. Many people bought land for an investment and did nothing--while others built outrageous looking shacks which are now falling into decay. The land value has dropped so much that it is affordable even to an American senior!

                              If you come up on a week-end, I'll wait to fire up the oven till you arrive so you can see how it goes and how quickly it comes up to temperature. Maybe even make a pizza or two. Fall is in the air, so try to make some reservations at some decent place in Nikko.. there are so many people coming here to view the fall colors when the leaves begin to change! Still a bit early..but the temperatures are a lot different from Saitama.

                              I'm assuming that "crack" must be some kind of drug in America! When people talk about cracks around here, they are usually talking about their "brick ovens" or jokes about plumbers' without suspenders! I don't use bricks for my oven dome, so I miss there! Also, I always wear 2" wide suspenders to keep my trousers up! When you have the midlife spread or in my case "almost end of life--slide", have to wear suspenders all the time!

                              Haven't got confirmation yet, but we were talking about using a unic truck to haul my oven to Utsunomiya for the opening week-end ceremony in November for an architecture office that I work with.. That would be fun--but still undecided!